Economist Richard Schuler dies at age 81

By: Kathy Hovis,  A&S Communications
Mon, 03/04/2019

Richard Schuler, professor emeritus in the Department of Economics in the College of Arts & Sciences and professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering in the  College of Engineering, passed away Feb. 13 at the age of 81. Services were held Feb. 18 at Saint Catherine’s of Sienna Church in Ithaca.

Schuler joined the Cornell faculty in 1972. His research emphasized the micro-planning, management and pricing of infrastructure and utilities, as well as the societal issues of their institutional structure, regional economic impact and environmental consequences. He wrote extensively on the changing institutional and regulatory needs for the electric industry, including its deregulation. He also explored basic questions of organizational structure in the information age, using numerical simulation techniques, together with colleagues at Cornell and the Santa Fe Institute.

“Dick gave us a very warm welcome when we came to Cornell from Penn in 1986,” said Susan Shell, whose husband Karl Shell, the R.J. Thorne Professor of Economics, was a colleague of Schuler’s. “Dick’s enthusiasm and friendly manner engaged all of us who knew him. He will be missed.”

Schuler served on the executive committee of the National Science Foundation-supported, multi-university Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems. For twelve years he also taught "The Political, Legal, Regulatory Environment of Business" for MBA students in the Johnson Graduate School of Management and from 1995 to 2001, he directed and expanded the Institute for Public Affairs, Cornell's interdisciplinary, university-wide professional MPA program.

Schuler also served as director of the Waste Management Institute and the NYS Solid Waste Combustion Institutes from 1987-93, as well as associate director of the Center for the Environment from 1989-93. He served on Cornell’s Board of Trustees from 1993-97, on the recent presidential search committee and was a member of the faculty senate for nearly 20 years.

Schuler’s experience extended beyond academia. He was an engineer and manager with the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company from 1959-68, energy economist with Battelle Memorial Institute from 1968-69 and public service commissioner and deputy chairman for New York State from 1981-83. He was a consultant to numerous government agencies and industries on pricing, management and environmental issues and to the World Bank on energy and infrastructure investment programs for Thailand and the Philippines.

He was also a founding board member in 1999 of the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), responsible for operating the electric transmission grid reliably in New York while overseeing an efficient power market, a position he held until April 2012.  During his tenure, he chaired several committees and was the board's lead director from 2008-2010.

Schuler earned his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Yale, an MBA from Lehigh University and his PhD in economics from Brown. He is survived by his wife, Mary; his children, Rick Schuler (Natalie), Anne Schuler and Judy Miller (Joel); and his grandchildren Dick Max (Tatyana), Nikhon and John Schuler and Jake, Cassie, Elizabeth and Zach Miller.